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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV564 (c.1712) [16.11]
Sonata No. 1 in E flat major, BWV525 (1727) [16.58]
Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV542 (c.1721) [13.19]
Sonata No. 3 in D minor, BWV527 (1727) [16.44]
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV538 The Dorian (c.1712) [15.47]
Kari Vuola (organ)
rec. 16 October 2003 (BWV525, 542), 10 May 2004 (BWV527, 538, 564), Naantali Convent Church, Finland. DDD
ALBA ABCD 209 [78.59]

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This generously-filled disc of Bach’s organ music abounds in good things.

To begin with, the sound is exemplary, capturing the spacious acoustic of the Naantali Convent Church and its splendid instrument. The programme is strong and imaginative, as we would expect of Bach, with a succession of substantial masterworks, well played by an organist who knows and loves the music.

The general production standards are high too. For example, the booklet notes are Kari Vuola himself, and are direct and informative, wholly without pretension. The design is clearly laid out and the text easy to read despite the relatively small size of the print. Perhaps a few other companies might take a leaf out of Alba’s book.

The Alba engineers are experienced in the field of organ music and this brings enormous gains. The quieter moments, such as the introspective middle movement of the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, are atmospheric, while the magnificence of the powerful sonorities is hugely impressive. In particular the great G minor Fantasia and Fugue gain from the appropriate context of acoustic and recorded balance, with a magnificent opening gesture that set the agenda quite thrillingly.

Although Kari Vuola has travelled widely he is better known in eastern Europe and in the United States than in Britain, France or Italy or so his biographical note suggests. But he is undoubtedly a player of the front rank, of whom more needs to be heard. Certainly some of the performances here, and in particular the Fantasia and Fugue, are as fine as any in the catalogue of Bach recordings.

Terry Barfoot





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